The name’s J.P Manoux. Remember it. Chances are many credit rolls in the near future are going to encompass that same John Hancock. Clint Morris catches up with the “Starship Troopers 2” star to talk shop.
Ok, so how does someone go from being a contestant on game-shows to fully-fledged actor?
I was obsessed with game shows as a teenager. You didn’t have to be an actor to get on TV! This was long before Mark Burnett took over the universe as we know it, so Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud and Jeopardy! were my only reality show options. The money I won on those shows paid for much of my university tuition in Chicago, where I discovered improv and sketch comedy. Found my calling. Moved to Hollywood. Worked as a motion capture actor for a handful of video games. Better acting gigs eventually followed.
How did you get the part in “Starship Troopers 2”?
I auditioned for the part. The producers had never met me before, which I think helped my chances of impressing them as the mysterious Sgt. Peck. My character stutters and decomposes throughout the film, so I borrowed Edward Norton’s voice from Primal Fear and worked in some clever physical stuff to help sell the image of a guy with tear-away limbs. It was a blast.
Is there a particular genre you enjoy doing more so than another?
I love anything that gives me a chance to do physical comedy. In the Disney Channel series I’m currently working on (Phil of the Future), I play an accident prone Neanderthal living with a family from the future whose time machine crashes in 2004. It’s hard for me to imagine having more fun with scripts and set pieces than what I’m doing right now.
Tease us a bit with what we can expect from “The Day After Tommorrow”, which you have a role in?
The special effects that I’ve seen are absolutely spectacular, as well you might expect from director Roland Emmerich. And I don’t think you can get much grander than the end of the world by way of climatic apocalypse.
How did you get into this business?
I used to watch the Shields and Yarnell as a kid. Did you get them in Australia?.They were a married couple of mimes who somehow got their own variety show in the ’70s. They did a regular bit called Robots at Breakfast which, according to my mother, I used to do all over the house. Most of my family has expressed relief that those endless hours torturing them finally paid off somewhere.
You’ve done voices in both “Scooby Doo” films. How did that come up?
Every now and then, a casting director will ask me do them a favour and read a handful of lesser character roles at the table-read for a big budget feature. The studio executives usually want to hear their stars read the movie once, or twice, before sending it back to the screenwriter with notes. That’s what happened on the Scooby movies. When it finally came time to lock down the smaller parts, my voice was still stuck in their heads.
Do you prefer TV or Film?
I’d love to be part of a film that is remembered forever as something great. But TV sitcom life can’t be beat. Four days of playing, tweaking, discovering, and re-tweaking, followed by one intense night of delightful terror. It’s the closest thing to theater, and probably the most empowering medium for actors with improv skills. When Take #1 doesn’t make the studio audience laugh, the voice of somebody saying, "What if we tried it this way?" is suddenly heard loud and clear.
Would you like to write or direct your own film one day?
Funny you should ask. I’m actually working on a script right now, which just happens to have a great part in it for an energetic 5-foot, 6-inch, bug-eyed actor with a shaved head. Hmm.
Any more “Starship Troopers” films on the way?
Well, the bugs are still out there, and they do seem to be getting smarter… I don’t know. If they do make another Troopers it probably won’t involve my character, unless they write a prequel. There’s not a whole lot left of Sgt. Peck at the end of Starship Troopers 2.
What’s next for you?
More commercial work here in the states (I’m one of the Fruit of the Loom Guys), the second season of Phil of the Future, and the voice of Kuzco for a new animated series based on The Emperor’s New Groove. I’ll keep www.jpmanoux.com up-to-date for any of your interested readers.